Easter 2016

Just finished – it’s never actually finalised till you sign off and it goes a publisher – my chapter on Trainspotting the book; it’s the longest chapter in my book. Long ago I realised that the ending of Trainspotting is more than a tribute to David Bowie; more than a western; more than the launch pad for the sequel Porno; though it is certainly all of these things. This is a resurrection story, a narrative form of the proposition that even – especially – junkies have a lust for life. Welsh, and Danny Boyle in the film, want the protagonist to do more than just survive. He has to have a bright new future in prospect. It’s not easy, maybe not possible, to get there from the end of addiction, but they don’t let that dominate. So don’t try to understand. Hope, and believe. Nobody makes any divine claims for Trainspotting, of course, but the technique works whether you’re reading scripture or literature.

It’s the season also to reflect on events in Dublin exactly a century ago. Did you know that Edinburgh-born James Connolly – he is referred to in Trainspotting – was shot by firing squad, and it was half a century before his relatives here felt safe to identify themselves? The traditionalists have it that the 1916 Easter Uprising was a tragic failure, that the insurrectionists were courageous, they are heroes and they deserved better. How about saying they were impetuous fools who ruined any chance of Ireland remaining united; that they condemned what became the Republic to a hundred years of oppression by the church and the North to a hundred years of oppression by the state? This is a ‘What if…? of history. We’ll never know how things would have worked out if they had been otherwise. An interesting reflection, this Eastertide, though. It comes into my book, as I run through the contribution of the Irish to life in Leith, using Spud as the focus.

I’m not in Scotland, but in Wales for Easter, land of the daffodils. Easter being early this year, A E Housman’s poem from A Shropshire Lad is not quite in keeping with the season. But it’s unforgettable:

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Let’s all look forward to everything that lies in front of us.